OLD FRIENDS began as a retirement and rescue facility for pensioned Thoroughbreds. Then news broke of the inconceivable death of Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand in a slaughterhouse in Japan in 2002. The discovery gave even more impetus to our organization. "We went from getting five emails a day to hundreds," noted President and founder Michael Blowen. We knew such a death must never happen again. And so the plan became to bring " at risk" racehorses--those whose racing and breeding careers had come to an end--to OLD FRIENDS, provide them with the dignified retirement they deserve, and open the space to the public. By promoting these one-time celebrated horses through a campaign of education and tourism, we realized we could draw attention to all retired Thoroughbreds and all equines in need.
Since then OLD FRIENDS has retired two mares (including Bonnie's Poker, the dam of 1997 Derby winner Silver Charm) and five geldings (including Seabiscuit star Popcorn Deelites).
We are the only thoroughbred rescue/retirement facility that accepts stallions, and so we take exceptional pride in our pensioned champions, among them 1988 Eclipse-winning Turf Champion Sunshine Forever and the last great son of Damascus Ogygian.
Based in Georgetown, Ky., OLD FRIENDS has begun receiving visitors. We are hosting two to five tours daily (see Visit Old Friends), and while our guests come to visit a few ex-racehorses, they leave having been touched by the heart of a Thoroughbred hero.